Best Shampoos for Dogs with Hot Spots in 2024

What causes hot spots?

Who knows what causes them! That’s not precisely true. Moisture and bacteria cause hot spots. A dog running through the dewy grass on a summer morning can develop a hot spot if he gets some moisture in a bug bite on his leg and bacteria goes to work. A bath, a swim, playing in the kiddie pool in your back yard are all opportunities for your dog to get some moisture on his skin and coat. Bacteria can then work its way into any small break in the skin.

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Dogs that live in places with hot, humid weather can be especially at risk of developing hot spots. This is even more true if the dog has a heavy coat. Flea allergies can be another trigger.

You will sometimes read that hot spots appear on dogs that are dirty or ungroomed. While it’s certainly true that a dog that’s dirty or matted can have hot spots, dogs that are clean and well-groomed can also get hot spots. If your dog gets a hot spot, don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about how you care for your dog. There’s every chance that it has nothing to do with your dog’s cleanliness.

Research generally indicates that a dog that is under stress in some way or which has a weakened immune system can be more likely to develop a hot spot since his immune system may not be strong enough to fight off the bacteria that’s trying to spread. Dogs that get a hot spot once may be more prone to getting them again. If your dog has other immune system problems such as hypothyroidism, this could be an indicator that he may get hot spots.

One reason that hot spots grow so fast is because dogs lick them … and chew at their skin … and scratch them. It doesn’t take long for a tiny spot to become a big, ugly red lesion.

Best Treatment for Hots Spots on Dogs

If your dog develops a hot spot it should be treated immediately before your dog has a chance to keep bothering it and making it worse.

  • The area around the hot spot needs to be trimmed to expose it to air. This will help it dry out sooner and heal faster. If you have dog clippers, use them for this task. Be careful not to cut into the hot spot since it can be painful for your dog.
  • Gently clean the spot with a shampoo made for hot spots. You can also use an antiseptic or astringent but these products are more likely to burn when you apply them. A shampoo made for treating hot spots should be milder on your dog’s skin. Pat the area dry.
  • There are several good products you can apply to help stop the itching and encourage the hot spot to heal. Hydrocortisone creams and sprays from your veterinarian will require a prescription. There are also good topical, over-the-counter products made for dogs that can help treat hot spots. Along with hydrocortisone, chlorhexidine is another good medication to use for hot spots. Be careful not to use products made for humans since they can contain chemicals which could be dangerous for your dog such as zinc oxide. (Remember that your dog may lick anything you put on the hot spot.) We like products that dry such as sprays or pads that pat the area better than creams or ointments which can keep the hot spot moist.
  • You may need to use an e-collar (Elizabethan collar or “cone of shame”) placed around your dog’s neck in order to prevent him from licking off any medication or trying to keep licking at the hot spot.
  • Do not put any wrappings or bandages on the hot spot. It needs to remain exposed to the air so it can stay dry and heal.
  • If your dog’s hot spot doesn’t improve, head to the vet. Your dog may need some antibiotics or a hydrocortisone shot to boost the healing process.

How Often Do Dogs Need Shots?

Best Dog Shampoo for Hots Spots

We have two shampoos to recommend for hot spot relief:

Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hot Spot & Itch Relief Shampoo

Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hot Spot & Itch Relief Shampoo helps relieve dry, itchy skin and it’s especially made for hot spots. It contains lidocaine and hydrocortisone to provide quick relief and reduce your dog’s urge to lick and chew at the hot spot. (Most hot spot shampoos don’t contain hydrocortisone.) It also has colloidal oatmeal and aloe vera to soothe, moisturize, and promote healing.

We also like:

Vet’s Best Hot Spot Shampoo for Dogs

Vet’s Best Hot Spot Shampoo for Dogs is formulated especially for treating hot spots. It has a natural formula that provides fast relief for itchy, dry, irritated skin. Ingredients include tea tree oil, aloe vera, and chamomile to soothe and heal red, inflamed skin. It’s alcohol-free and won’t sting when you use it.


All kinds of dogs can get hot spots, especially dogs in hot, humid weather or dogs who may have a weakened immune system for any reason. The only good thing about hot spots is that they are relatively easy to treat and they usually clear up quickly if you can keep them dry and make your dog leave the area alone. Use a good shampoo for hot spots to clean the area daily and the lesion should heal quickly – provided you can keep your dog from bothering it. Do see your veterinarian if you encounter any difficulties.

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